SINCE the August 7, 1998 bomb attacks at the US embassy, Kenya has had no peace with terrorist attacks intensifying. The American embassy in Nairobi which was situated in the middle of the business sector and close to the busy railway terminus was the target of the terrorists under the command of Osama Bin Laden, the then chief of Al-Qaeda terror network.
Osama was killed by the Americans in his Pakistani hideout two years ago. But this was not the first bomb attack in Kenya. In March 1,1975, a blast occurred in a lavatory at the Starlight Nightclub [which stood on the site of the modern Integrity Centre], while the second at the Information Bureau near the Hilton Hotel and the third, in which 27 people lost their lives, at the OTC bus station on March 1, 1975 which police tried to fix the populist Nyandarua North MP JM Kariuki.
The next shocking bomb attack in Nairobi would be at the Norfolk Hotel on New Year’s Eve 1980. In the attack, a bomb flattened the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi, killing 20 people and injuring 80. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by an Arab group that said it was seeking retaliation for Kenya’s allowing Israeli troops to refuel in Nairobi during the 1976 raid on Entebbe Airport in Uganda to rescue hostages from a hijacked aircraft.
On June 11, 2007, two people including a man suspected to have been carrying the explosive died outside City Gate Restaurant next to Hotel Ambassadeur during the 8am incident. In late September 2009, revellers at Simmers restaurant along Kenyatta Avenue stumbled on a grenade under seats. The Russian-made explosive was similar to the ones used by the General Service Unit and the military.
The next time Kenya was hit by by terror bombings was in the run up to the 2002 general election. On November 28, 15 people, including three Israeli tourists, were killed in a bomb attack on the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel near Mombasa. This attack was also blamed on al-Qaeda but arrests were made and people charged. However, in 2005 a judge acquitted three men accused of conspiracy in the attack and the charges against four others for the same crime were dismissed by the court.
The entry of Somalia-based al Shabaab which has links with al Qaeda saw other deaths through bomb and grenade attacks in the country. Kenya has been struck by a series of blasts since it sent troops across the border in October to try to crush al Shabaab militants. Nairobi and Mombasa has suffered a string of grenade attacks.
In June 2010, there was an attack in Nairobi”s Uhuru Park that police blamed on followers of al Shabaab. Three grenades exploded at a political rally in Uhuru Park killing six people and 30 injured. Then in December 2010, three people died and 39 were injured in a grenade attack on a bus in Nairobi. It has never been revealed who was behind that attack and nobody has yet been charged.
On December 4, 2010, three policemen including two traffic police officers and an AP were killed in separate grenade attacks in Nairobi and about two weeks later, one person was killed, 26 injured after a grenade explodes at Kampala Coach bus terminus, River Road. In October 17, 2011, one person was killed in yet another grenade attack that also saw 15 injured after a grenade ws thrown into Mwaura’s pub in Nairobi. This was before another person was killed and eight injured after a grenade was thrown at OTC bus stage seven days later.
The attackers who seemed to change tack visited Garissa’s East African Pentecostal church on November 16, 2011 and killed two people in a grenade attack. Four people were killed on October 27, 2011 when a grenade hit a vehicle carrying KCSE material in Mandera while another three killed in twin grenade attacks on Garissa’s Holiday Inn hotel on November 24, 2011. On April 4 this year, two others were killed and 30 injured in grenade attacks at a church crusade in Mtwapa, Mombasa which was to be followed by another attack three weeks later which claimed one life and injuring 16 at the God’s House of Miracles International Church in Nairobi’s Ngara area.
There were two attacks in May which saw two people die. A security guard was killed after two grenades were lobbed into Bella Vista bar in Mombasa while one person died and 30 injured after an explosion rocked Assanands building along Moi venue in Nairobi on May 16 and 28 respectively. Another attack on June 25 killed one person and several others injured in Jericho pub in Mombasa.
But the worst came on July 1 when 17 people were killed and 45 wounded in grenade attacks at the Garissa Catholic and AIC churches. Among the dead were two police officers who lost two guns to the attackers in the raid at the local Africa Inland Church. The officers were guarding the church.